REPORT | Pre-season: Wrexham AFC 2-1 Salford City XI

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Sat 12 Sep 2020

Jake Bickerstaff caught the eye, playing his part in one goal and scoring the other as Wrexham continued their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 win against a Salford City XI.

Bickerstaff played in the second-half of the match, and his work led to Wrexham’s opener through his trialist strike partner.

He then doubled the lead with a great finish and, though Salford pulled one back from the spot, Bickerstaff’s goal proved to be the winner.

With the match to be played in three 40-minute blocks, Dean Keates started with four of his summer signings – Jordan Davies, Reece Hall-Johnson, Kwame Thomas and Jordan Ponticelli all in from the kick-off.

The starting XI showed one trialist, at left-back, while Mark Carrington was in central midfield alongside Jay Harris.

Both sides lacked fluency early on, but Rob Lainton pulled off a smart save on 11 minutes only for the linesman’s flag to have already gone up.

Ponticelli had Wrexham’s first chance on 15 minutes, striking straight at the goalkeeper from 20 yards.

Moments later, at the other end, Max Cleworth was beaten at the byline but Shaun Pearson slid in to block.

Lainton then saved well at his near post on 25 minutes as the visitors found their rhythm quicker than the home team.

Adi Yussuf replaced Ponticelli on 32 minutes in Wrexham’s first change of the afternoon, but it was strike partner Thomas who went closest to breaking the deadlock for the Reds.

From Davies’ free-kick on 35 minutes, Thomas met a vicious cross at the back post but could only head over the bar from close-range.

On the stroke of half-time, Davies’ 25-yard free-kick hit the wall, as the two sides ended the first period goalless.

After the interval, Wrexham started brightly and Yussuf turned and shot at Nick Hayes in the Salford goal just a minute into the period.

Salford had two good chances to break the deadlock, meanwhile, and Hayden Campbell shot wide from a tight angle on 44 minutes just moments after Lainton had parried an earlier effort away.

Davies’ 49th minute free-kick then found Yussuf in space at the back post, but he was leaning back as he shot wildly over.

Despite the match being a friendly, there were a few tackles flying in and Jay Harris earned a yellow card for a particularly wild lunge on 56 minutes.

The match was then paused again on the hour, for half-time, as Wrexham prepared to unveil their team for the second-half.

The only player to stay on for Wrexham was Yussuf, who then had a great chance on 64 minutes – winning possession back well and charging towards goal, but shooting too close to the goalkeeper.

Jamie Reckord, Theo Vassell and new signing Anthony Jeffrey were on for the second-half, with four trialists in the XI too.

Yussuff then made way for Jake Bickerstaff on 71 minutes as Wrexham continued to rotate their options.

The 80-minute mark meant another stoppage and after a slow start to the final third, Wrexham finally broke the deadlock in the 87th minute.

Jake Bickerstaff did the hard work, battling well with his centre-back – work which created space for his triallist strike-partner to slot in from close range.

Theo Vassell then twice went close, first seeing his header from Luke Young’s hanging cross well saved, before his goalbound header from a right-wing corner deflected wide.

The trialist striker then put the ball in the net for a second time, with an excellent left-footed lob, but sadly the referee’s whistle had already gone in the 98th minute.

Moments later, Wrexham won possession on the right and freed Bickerstaff to run in on goal, but he dragged a right-footed shot wide across goal.

Bickerstaff got the goal his second-half performance deserved on 102 minutes though, racing onto a great pass from the trialist right-back and hammering it into the far corner.

Salford pulled a goal back from the penalty spot on 111 minutes, after a trialist made a foul in the area.

Bickerstaff nearly restored the two-goal lead just moments later, however, after Jeffrey’s burst of pace down the left-wing.

Jeffrey left his full-back for dead and pulled the ball back for Bickerstaff on the penalty spot but, though he beat the keeper, his shot was blocked by a desperate sliding challenge.

Wrexham held on to win, however, continuing pre-season with a second win – albeit in a game in which fitness and form were always the bigger priorities.

Wrexham 1st hour team | Lainton (GK), Hall-Johnson, Cleworth, Pearson, Trialist A, Davies, Harris, Carrington, Jarvis, Ponticelli (Yussuf 32), Thomas.

Wrexham 2nd hour team | Dibble (GK), Trialist B, Trialist C, Vassell, Reckford, Trialist D, Redmond, Young, Jeffrey, Trialist E, Yussuf (Bickerstaff 71).

Referee: Alex Livesey


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